Dominic Lash – ErogenMay 28, 2012
Compost and Height
So tonight I am really tired, having worked a ten hour shift after only really getting to sleep around 4.30AM. I was in bed for two, but the heat and humidity here, coupled with an overactive mind meant `I didn’t fall to sleep until just a couple of hours before I was due to get up again. So I am in a bit of a dream state tonight, heightened by the muggy warmth that is still hanging about and the bottle of pear cider I just downed. I have thought a bit today whilst working about what I could potentially write about last night’s gig. I sat outside of Café Oto for the opening set of the evening, partly because Oto is too hot t the best of times and I didn’t want to spend longer in there than needs be, but also because the opening set was a thirty-five minute long drone made by holding down keys on four little Casio keyboards. The second set, by the duo Chora was OK, but certainly no more than OK- clouds of looping samples and reverb drenched mouth organ drifting into pummelling rhythmic pulse and wailing vocals. All kind of noise music without the extreme volumes but with a similar sense of predictable building to extremes before stopping and starting again. I’ve heard a lot worse but Chora were still not my thing at all.
The amount of skilled musicianship and a deftness of the ear was very evident in the quintet TONS that closed the night. This was the reason Julie and I made the trip (as well as eating bad pizza with some of the group) but even then we had to leave after about half an hour of their set. I’m not sure how much we missed. The quintet are Dominic Lash (double bass) Patrick Farmer (bits of percussion and electronics, mostly violently abused drum snares and personal CD players last night) Hannah Marshall (cello) D’Incise (laptop and various small percussive objects) and Cyril Bondi (small percussion without the laptop). This was the most controlled and restrained I have heard this group yet (I think this was my fourth time of hearing them) and also the most finely crafted as they wove a subtle, mostly quiet blend of electronic and acoustic sounds, with Farmer continuing in how role of agitator (apparently after we left last night he vibrated his table so much just about everything fell off of it). TONS were very enjoyable if slightly predictably beautiful and well crafted, but I’m going to wait until I hear them again before writing further. I may have hated the ending for all we know.
So, given that I want to write more this week as I feel I’ve not done much of late, and given that the Compost and Height net label have been really active recently uploading all kinds of free goodies I thought I would spend this week with free downloads of music from one place or another, with I imagine, quite a bit of time spent with C&H releases. I am tired, so I am settling on a fifteen minute piece tonight, and the various caveats should be applied given that it is by Dominic Lash, who I have released a CD by, will release a further CD by late this year and am putting on as part of the concert in Oxford next month. Take what I have to say with the requisite smidgeon of sodium chloride then.
Erogen is a fifteen minute work written by Lash for a concert event in London. It manages to combine electric guitar, prerecorded bass drum, contrabass, electric guitar and field recordings. For the original live version Lash was joined by Brian Catling and Ian Heames for the performance, but given this version is “based upon” that original live performance, I am not sure if the extra two musicians appear here or not. Given that Lash usually only plays bass, its hard to tell whether the other sounds here come from his hand directly or not. Erogen then is a seemingly very brief swirling mass of rotating or linearly sustained sounds, mostly textural. The field recordings are unidentifiable, perhaps just abstract sounds hanging about in the rear of the track. The bass drum is caressed in circular motions continuously to add an earthy white noise, the guitar is (I think) played just with an eBow, and Lash’ bass contribution consists of slow low bowed notes suspended amidst it all. The sensation is one of droning then, but as the few elements stop and start constantly, and the colourless abrasions of the drum rub against the clear lines of tone there is a nice blend of the two in place, keeping the music from just being something completely linear. I am reminded of a quite basic, elemental Michael Pisaro, as there are far fewer sounds involved than your usual recent Pisaro work but the way things combine, rise and fall is similar in tone.
Erogen isn’t anything earth-shatteringly new or particularly unusual, but I am very pleased to hear it, partly because it shows a potential new direction for Lash in composition, an area I think he will inevitably end up engrossed in one day, no matter how much in demand he ever is as an all round bassist. Even in something so small and simple there is an excellent sense of well chosen combinations of sounds and a nicely controlled sense of intimate drama as elements come and go. Its free, so go and get it here and decide for yourself of course. More download reviews this week then, when a little more lucid.